This column highlights five past bouts from fighters competing on this weekend’s UFC 183. These fights represent some of the highest moments in the careers of their respective participants, and should serve to pique your interest heading into the event. 1. Anderson Silva vs. Forrest Griffin – UFC 101 Upcoming Bout: Anderson Silva vs. Nick Diaz
There are so many highlights to choose from in Anderson Silva’s career, but this one against Forrest Griffin is one of the most memorable and most stunning visually. It also represents what happens when a fighter charges forward recklessly at Silva. Nick Diaz won’t be overcommitting and swinging wildly like Griffin was in this bout, nor will he move forward without punches to occupy Silva’s attention. However, Diaz will be moving forward and that could give Silva plenty of opportunities to catch him coming in. Will he add another highlight to his reel in his much anticipated return? The recipe could very well be there.
2. Nick Diaz vs. BJ Penn – UFC 137 Upcoming Bout: Nick Diaz vs. Anderson Silva
I’m going to start this off by saying something that will probably raise some eyebrows. BJ Penn is a better boxer than Anderson Silva. He defends strikes with a combination of hand placement, head movement, and body movement, counters extremely well, has one of the best jabs in the sport, and can actually lead a fight. Silva obviously bridges that gap (and more) with his kicking ability — not to mention his greater size and length — but with the questions surrounding his leg injury and willingness to throw kicks, there is a chance this turns into a boxing match. If that happens, Diaz’s volume will get through Anderson’s hands-down, strictly head movement-based defense. With Anderson being 39 years old, that could see him getting knocked out, or simply forcing him into the shell that Diaz put Penn into. Diaz also gets stronger as fights go, and in spite of his two-year layoff, that should hold true here if Anderson is unable to deter him early on. With Diaz’ odds creeping up over +400, there could be value in the Stockton native.
3. Kelvin Gastelum vs. Uriah Hall – TUF 17 Finale Upcoming Bout: Kelvin Gastelum vs. Tyron Woodley
When Kelvin Gastelum steps in the cage to face Tyron Woodley on Saturday night, he will be an underdog for just the second time in his UFC career. Interestingly, the last time he was an underdog was in his debut bout at middleweight against Uriah Hall. He’s practically a middleweight heading into what was supposed to be a welterweight bout against Woodley, coming in nine pounds over the limit. Gastelum has had problems making weight before and put on solid performances nonetheless. That may prove more difficult against Woodley, who is the most talented fighter he’s ever faced. Many had pointed to Gastelum’s workrate as the key to victory for him heading into this fight, much like it was in the bout against Uriah Hall. How much Gastelum’s poor preparation will impact his ability to do that remains to be seen, but this is definitely not the fight he wanted to come in at less than 100%.
4. Thales Leites vs. Tor Troeng – Superior Challenge 7 Upcoming Bout: Thales Leites vs. Tim Boetsch
In his last couple of fights, Thales Leites has shown off his newly developed striking power, but his best attribute still remains his Jiu-Jitsu. It’s a good thing his striking has become more dangerous however, because his wrestling is still fairly weak, as shown in this bout with Tor Troeng from 2010. Troeng is not a strong wrestler or grappler, but it’s interesting to note that Leites didn’t take him down either of the times this bout hit the mat. In the first round, he knocked Troeng down with a leg kick, and in the second he executed a beautiful sweep off a Troeng takedown. In addition, there were periods in the fight that Troeng controlled him up against the cage. Against a bigger, stronger wrestler in Tim Boetsch, Leites may struggle to get into the grappling realm again. While being on the ground would be most advantageous to him, he may be forced to rely on his stand up once again.
5. Ian McCall vs. Darrell Montague – Tachi Palace Fights 10 Upcoming Bout: Ian McCall vs. John Lineker
Even in the small, square cage of Tachi, Ian McCall was able to use his movement to make himself extremely hard to track down for a very solid striker in Darrell Montague. Montague is a far better fighter than his two UFC appearances have shown. He just had unfortunate matchmaking in those two bouts which saw him face a pair of fighters who excel in his best area, the striking. If McCall translates his movement to the massive Octagon the UFC uses for pay-per-views, it’s really tough to see John Lineker tracking him down. Throw another horrible Lineker weight cut into the mix, and McCall looks good for Saturday night. Perhaps he moves around and is able to dart in and out to win on points, or maybe he’s able to get his grappling going once Lineker starts to fade and he can find a finish on the ground, but either way, the bout which saw him capture Tachi Palace gold could be an indication of what is to come.